What to Expect at Winterfest 2019

Periwig’s annual production of Winterfest, a set of student-directed and acted short plays, returns to the Black Box Theater in the Kirby Arts Center this Friday and Saturday.

Periwig’s annual production of Winterfest, a set of student-directed and acted short plays, returns to the Black Box Theater in the Kirby Arts Center this Friday and Saturday.

This weekend, A Night, features Wanda’s Visit, co-directed by Ashley Warren ’20 and Emily Matcham ’20; Dancing on Checkers’ Grave, directed by Alex Witherspoon ’19; Man’s Best Friend co-directed by Micah Jones ’19 and Alex Stach ’20; and Hard Candy directed by Lily Vore ’19. The shows following the upcoming weekend on B Night are The Omelet Murder Case, directed by Owen Bird ’19 and Assistant Director Shreya Kumar ’20; Heavy Cream, co-directed by Ashley Van Den Bol ’20 and Anushka Agarwala ’20; Rotten Apples, directed and written by Zoe Thierfelder ’19; Cop Parody, co-directed by Jasmine Zhang ’20 and Lauren Recto ’20; and Check Please: Take 2, directed by Hunter Korn ’19.

“[Winterfest] gives students who have learned some theater technique the freedom to create on their own without adult interference,” Director of Theater Christopher Cull P ’20 said.

In addition to this year’s string of performances, Cull noted that Periwig’s student-led comedy troupe, Impulse, will be delivering a special performance during the last week of Winterfest. He hopes that “those students [involved in Impulse] can complete the successful revival [of the club] since they've had a hard time getting an audience these past two years.”

On the preparation process of the school-wide production, Assistant Head of Winterfest Emily Matcham ’20, who works with Head of Winterfest Linda Li ’19, noted that the process of selecting directors and holding auditions started the soon after the Fall Musical is over. After winter break, Matcham and Li worked with directors to schedule rehearsal, set stages, and pull costumes and props. Recently, in preparation for the approaching performances, Matcham and Li have held producer and technician runs as well. Despite the work the Winterfest team has put in, Matcham is still nervous, both as a director and as Assistant Head, about “having everything come together, including props, costumes, and the last finishing touches,” but is still hopeful and determined.

Casey Rogerson ’20 will be opening Winterfest in Wanda’s Visit as Jim, who is in a fairly boring marriage of 13 years until Wanda, his ex-girlfriend from high school, visits him and his wife. A big challenge that presents itself to Rogerson is finding the balance between “playing a really bland character without boring the audience,” as he feels the point of his character is to add contrast to Wanda, who “spices up [Jim]’s life.”

As one of the many Winterfest directors, Vore commented on her experience as an important figure in her production. Her play, Hard Candy, tells the story of what happens when applicants face competition in a series of job interviews.

“I am probably most excited to both see the scenes piece together but also for the cast to see the whole story and not just the scene they practiced,” Vore said.

She then later added that the most challenging part about directing her own show has been scheduling the cast's rehearsals to accommodate each person's schedule and get everyone where he or she need to be at the right time, as she has 11 cast members.

Although A Night boasts some exciting performances, Winterfest’s B Night will also showcase a mixed variety of theatrical genres, ranging from humor to more serious shows.

Actor David Hernandez ’19 plays Shakes Speare, a private investigator tasked to solve a murder mystery in The Omelet Murder Case, a spoof on Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” Hernandez noted that the cast “has built a lot of chemistry,” which really “propels the show forward as it is a comedy.”

“The best part [of Winterfest] has been getting to know people I did not have as much connection with before […]. We all have the same goal in mind of making people laugh, even though we do it in different ways,” he said.

On the other hand, Thierfelder will be introducing a new element to this year’s performances in bringing her own show to the Black Box. Her production, Rotten Apples, was initially inspired by the recent Brett Kavanaugh hearing and the “#MeToo” movement. Thierfelder’s play confronts themes of sexual consent in a high school party setting. She has also been “making edits, especially in terms of what [her] original vision was of how the dialogue and staging would play out versus what is practical.” Thierfelder adds that the time commitment and the organization has been the most difficult part of being a director.

As a co-director with Zhang, Recto’s play, Cop Parody, is a play within a play about “the relationship of a playwright and his actors [who are] investigating their role as cops in their [production].”

“[Zhang and I] have been focusing on making sure the actors are comfortable in their roles and getting off-script. They’re quick learners, so it has been an [enjoyment] rather than a challenge,” Recto said.